President's Update

June 30, 2015

Where did the year go?  The 2014-2015 program year for the AGA West Michigan ends on June 30 as well as my term as president.  It has been an honor to serve, and I have been lucky to work with an excellent, dedicated chapter executive committee.  Thank you so much for your support and leadership on the board.  Some of the accomplishments of AGA West Michigan over the past year include:

·         Provided 40 hours of CPE, some of which were free of cost and were attended by 432 members and guests

·         Focused on webinar training events to better serve our geographically diverse membership

·         Continued the platinum chapter status for the fourth consecutive year; our chapter is ranked number 20 out of 102 chapters over the country.

·         Provided the intensive three day governmental accounting training series

·         Obtained CGFM Month proclamations from 5 governments

·         Donated $473 to local charities

Karen Doyle will be the president for the 2015-2016 program year.  Karen is the Assistant City Manager / Finance Director for the City of Zeeland and has served as president elect for the past year.  Karen brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Board.

On behalf of the chapter, I’d like to thank The Rehmann Group for generously providing facilities and technology that help us keep our costs low.  A big thank you also goes to local governments that support our profession and our chapter through proclamations and by funding membership and training programs.  Last but not least, I thank the members and friends of the AGA West Michigan chapter for their participation, feedback, and commitment to professional excellence. 

Our new program year begins July 22 with the 2015 single audit update webinar.  However, there is still time for you to weigh in with your topic suggestions for future trainings– we’re always happy to hear your ideas.  Please mail your suggestions to education@agawestmichigan.org.


Connie Vander Schaaf, CGFM, CMA

President


Previous President's Updates

December 31, 2014

AGA West Michigan Members and Friends:

Hopefully you’ve all enjoyed the holidays and the New Year finds you ready for more of the excellent training opportunities provided by AGA West Michigan.  One such training opportunity has already been completed.  On January 21, Rehmann hosted the Governmental GAAP update webinar which included information on the new pension standards as well as other topics.  Slides to this presentation can be found on the AGA West Michigan website under events.  I’m excited to share that February marks the return of the Governmental Accounting Training Series which includes three all day training series over the next three months.  More information on the series (including registration information) can be found later in this newsletter or at the following link:  (http://www.agawestmichigan.org/home/events).  Take advantage of some or all of these training opportunities, and I urge you to invite a friend – they won’t be disappointed!

March is CGFM month, and I will be requesting local governments to designate March as Certified Government Financial Manager month.  Thank you in advance for your support.  For those of you interested in participating in the Certified Government Financial Manager program, please be aware that the AGA West Michigan Chapter has study materials which can be borrowed free of charge!

I look forward to seeing you at upcoming training events.  As always, if you have topics you would like to see training on, please contact me or any AGA West Michigan Board member with your ideas. 

Take Care and Stay Warm!

Connie Vander Schaaf, CGFM, CMA

President, AGA West Michigan Chapter

 
September 30, 2014

AGA Members and Friends:

September 30 represents the end of the first quarter for the sixth program year of the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) West Michigan Chapter.   The main focus of our chapter has been and continues to be quality education and CPE at an affordable price.  Due to the geographic disbursement of our members and potential members, the chapter does not have any Lunch n’ Learn activities scheduled for the 2014/2015 program year, as we’ve found that webinars appeal to more people in this area.  In July, the West Michigan AGA offered the “2014 Single Audit Update webinar,” hosted by the AGA West Michigan’s own education chair, Stephen Blann.  In September, Stephen also presented “The New COSO:  Internal Control over Financial Reporting.”  Both of these webinars were well attended, and I invite you to go to our events page and view the presentation slides to see the high caliber of the training opportunities AGA West Michigan is offering.

In the second quarter, AGA West Michigan will again offer a dual training event with the GFOA’s 19th Annual GAAP update on November 6.  The topic for the morning session through AGA West Michigan is “Federal Cost Principles/Grants Management.”  This all day training opportunity offers a total of eight CPEs and costs only $200 (including lunch) if you register by October 24.  In third and fourth quarters, we already have two webinars scheduled.  I’m also pleased to announce that the Governmental Accounting Training Series is back!  There will be more information on this excellent training opportunity in the next quarter. 

Congratulations to Ruben Sholinyan from Aquinas College who has been selected as the 2014-2015 student board member and scholarship recipient.  We look forward to Ruben’s ideas and talents to further improve the services our chapter provides and enhance membership.

Last, I want to offer special thanks to our corporate sponsor Rehmann for their continued support to the chapter’s events.  Their sponsorship helps keep costs down for many of our training opportunities.

As always, we want to hear from you!  We urge you to let us know the training topics and other events you would like to see offered by West Michigan AGA.  Feel free to contact me or any of our board members with your ideas. 


Connie Vander Schaaf, CGFM, CMA

President, AGA West Michigan Chapter

June 30, 2014

AGA West Michigan Members and Friends,
 

Thank you to all of our members and friends for another successful program year.  Special thanks to each of our Chapter Executive Committee (CEC) chairs and officers for their remarkable leadership.

Among the many significant contributions and accomplishments, the expansion of our quarterly webinars stands out.  Sponsored by Rehmann, they now reach more than 100 viewers across several AGA chapters.  To sign up for the 7/22/2014 Single Audit Update webinar – or any Chapter events on the calendar – visit www.agawestmichigan.org/home/events.

Connie Vander Schaaf begins her term as the Chapter’s fourth President at the start of the new program year in July.  She is Accounting Manager for the County of Ottawa and has served as President-Elect for the past year.  I will continue on the CEC as Immediate Past President and Connie has asked me to serve as Chapter newsletter editor, which can be read here.

Dwight D. Avery, CPA, CCM, CGFM

President, AGA West Michigan 

March 31, 2014

AGA West Michigan Members and Friends,
 
The first three wintry months of 2014 have flown by.  Highlights for me included our chapter’s monthly CPE events offering the typically diverse variety of relevant topics.   There were great online turnouts for the webinars that provided updates on governmental GAAP (January) and Affordable Care Act employer requirements and deadlines (February).   The program year’s third of three Technology Workshops (March) on my home turf in Muskegon provided a great number of timesaving techniques for the Excel user in each of us.

 

And there’s more to follow.  You won’t want to miss the webinar on the soon-to-take-effect new pension standards on Tuesday, 4/22/2014 at 2 pm.  It will provide great information on an important topic with 1.5 CPE credits available at your computer desktop. 

 

And then on Wednesday,  5/28/2014, the Lunch ‘n Learn series returns with a noontime stop at City Hall in Grand Haven.   I hope to see you there.

 

Dwight


September 30, 2013
A warm welcome to each of our members and friends as we are off and running with the fifth program year of the West Michigan Chapter of the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), whose mission, “AGA fosters learning, certification, leadership and collaboration for professionals and stakeholders committed to advancing government accountability,” continues to be exceptionally well-supported by chapter activities. Our primary objective at the local level continues to be providing high-quality affordable CPE for the government accountability community. Our timely and topical July webinar, Single Audit Update / 2013 OMB Circular A-133 Compliance Supplement, was our best attended event to date with 100 online attendees. A big thank-you for leading this presentation to our founding chapter president and ongoing education chair, Stephen Blann, CPA, CGFM, CGMA, who has crafted another excellent calendar of CPE-event topics and speakers for this program year.
Upcoming Education Events. The Affordable Care Act for Governments is the subject matter for our next quarterly webinar coming up on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 (2-3 pm). You won’t want to miss it! And on Thursday, November 7, 2013, we team up in Grand Rapids at the offices of Rehmann for an “AGA/GFOA Double Feature”to offer 8 CPE credits for the day with a Technology Workshop in the morning and an Annual Governmental GAAP Update in the afternoon. For event details and to register online, visit our chapter website ( http://www.agawestmichigan.org/home/events ).
Looking for a way to become involved with the chapter? This year I’m hoping to further enhance communications between the Chapter Executive Committee (CEC) and our constituents. Do you have web design skills you could put to use for a couple hours a month? A chapter member is needed to serve as Communications Chair/Webmaster, whose first order of business will be to take our website to the next level by upgrading to the new Chapter Website Template available from the AGA National Office. Also needed is a Newsletter Editor (could be the same person) to gather and compile information from committee members for a periodic newsletter, also using a standard AGA format. If interested, please let me know!
If you have any questions about our organization or events – or if you are interested in becoming involved with the chapter’s website, newsletter or any other role – please feel free to contact me.
Yours truly,
 
Dwight Avery, CPA, CCM, CGFM
President, West Michigan Chapter
Association of Government Accountants
231.724.6205
AGA West Michigan Chapter President Dwight Avery accepts the Platinum Chapter Recognition Award at the 2013 PDC.
 

June 30, 2013
 
AGA Members and Friends,
 
June marks the end of our program year. As I look back over the previous year, I am more than pleased with the number of events we were able to offer our members and guests which amounted to 47 hours of CPE! A big thank you to my fellow members of the Chapter Executive Committee, the various local governments that donated space for our events, and the members and friends that agreed to present at one of the sessions. A thank you also goes out to each of you for participating in the events, providing feedback through evaluations and member surveys, and for being eager learners. Each chapter of the AGA (there are over 100 of them) is asked to participate in an annual incentive program to track certain encouraged activities. A chapter receives points for each approved activity in a variety of categories, such as: membership, education, professional certification, early career and student outreach, and community service. I am pleased to announce that for the third year in a row, the West Michigan chapter has achieved platinum status through this program. This is the highest level award that can be achieved. We will be recognized for this accomplishment at the national AGA conference next month. Finally, I would like to take a minute to introduce Dwight Avery to those of you who have not met him. Dwight has served as the President-Elect for the past year and has a lot of exciting ideas in store for next year. He is the Accounting Manager at the County of Muskegon and effective July 1, our Chapter President. You can continue to reach out to me with questions or concerns during the next year under the e-mail address secretary@agawestmichigan.org. With that I wish you all a great summer and officially pass off the baton to Dwight...
 
Kristin

March 31, 2013
 
AGA Members and Friends,
 
It has been a very busy 3 months for the organization. We offered a total of 18 CPE hours this quarter alone!! A big thanks to our education and professional certification chair, Stephen Blann, for coordinating these events and preparing/presenting a bulk of the material. Whether you were able to attend the 8 hour joint event with the ACFE, the 8 hour Governmental Accounting Training Series, Level Two, the webinar on the new pension standards or the lunch 'n learn on the EVIP program, we hope you found the information to be valuable. As always, we appreciate your feedback and ideas on topics for future events. Our program year will wrap up at the end of June, but we have several more events being offered before then. We are looking for individuals interested in participating on the Chapter Executive Committee for the upcoming program year (July 2012 through June 2013). If you are interested in taking an active role in the organization by holding a board position, please let me know (president@agawestmichigan.org). Finally, thank you for your patience over the past month as we worked through technical difficulties with our e-mail and web domain. I think these conflicts have been resolved now. Our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
 
Kristin
 
December 31, 2012
 
AGA Members and Friends,
 
First and foremost, happy holidays to each of you. This time of year can be so hectic with deadlines, holiday shopping, parties and events, etc. I hope everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the company of loved ones and focus on the true blessings of the season. Once you are all rested up and back to work in January, we have a PACKED agenda of educational events being offered, including levels 2 and 3 of the Governmental Accounting Training Series (GATS), a joint event with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). Don't forget to visit our events page for details and registration. Looking for ideas for a new years resolution? Consider studying and sitting for the Certified Government Financial Manager exam. More info on the certification process can be found here. Remember that the chapter has already purchased the study materials which are available for members to borrow free of charge!! I am looking for seeing you at our various upcoming events. As always, please contact if you have suggestions for upcoming training events or if you would like to get involved in hosting an event or participating on the chapter executive committee.
 
Happy holidays,
Kristin
 
September 30, 2012
 
AGA Members and Friends,
 
We are now one quarter into the 2012-2013 program year. Our educational opportunities have been light these past few months, but we have some great events planned for this coming quarter. Stephen Blann, our chapter education chair has agreed to offer the Governmental Accounting Training Series again this year. We have received great feedback on this series of 3 full-day training days. I encourage you to notify the governing body of your government of the level one session, which would be a great government finance overview for a board member. We will again serving as a host site for the GFOA's Annual Governmental GAAP Update. This ia 4-hour web conference that we will be pairing with a 4-hour internal controls over federal awards session to round out a full 8 hr. day of CPE. As a reminder, the chapter owns a set of study materials for the CGFM exam, which is available to any board member to check out in one-month increments FREE OF CHARGE! Looking forward to seeing all of you at our coming events. As always, if you have suggestions for future training topics or would be available to host an event at your workplace, please let us know.

Kristin

June 30, 2012

This message marks my last as Chapter President. It has been an honor to serve AGA West Michigan in this capacity, and I have been truly blessed to work with such a talented and dedicated group of individuals. Our small chapter has come a long way in its short history... including two consecutive years of being awarded Platinum recognition status by AGA National... quite a feat for a chapter not yet 3 years old!

 

While I will miss my role as President, I'm not going anywhere... our new President, Kristin Saper (whom I know will lead this Chapter to even greater success) has asked me to stay on as Education Chair for 2012-2013, so you'll still see me around. Please reach out to the new board, offer your ideas, your suggestions, and your support. These are a great group of volunteers who believe in our profession, and the importance of government accountability.  Better yet, why not join them?  I'm sure Kristin would love to have another recruit or two!

 

Thanks again to all who helped make this year a success, including the City of Kentwood (our June Lunch 'n Learn host), and all the participants at our various events.  Have a great summer, and don't forget to check the website often for more great events from AGA West Michigan.

Stephen

March 31, 2012

Another great quarter has come and gone, and AGA West Michigan remains committed to advancing government accountability, and providing high quality affordable CPE for government financial managers.

 

Our first joint session with the ACFE (in January) went very well, and we look forward to future sessions on governmental fraud prevention. Our second annual student/early career event was held in February, with a great panel of government financial managers. February also saw a session on enhancing the effectiveness of MD&A, hosted by the City of Wyoming. In March, we held our first Technology Workshop at Ottawa County on cleaning downloads in Excel. 

March was CGFM month, and we again received positive support from several West Michigan governments for the CGFM credential. (See our Accountabilty page for a complete list.)

More great things are in store... I hope you will join us!

Thanks to all of you who are involved! Be sure to invite a friend or colleague to join us!

Stephen

December 31, 2011

It’s hard to believe that 2011 is already drawing to a close.  The past few months have just flown by as the Chapter covered such topics as Pension Investment Management, Ethics, and Accounting for Debt Refundings.  We hosted the GFOA’s Annual GAAP Update, and also increased our support of other nonprofit organizations through a stepped up Community Service program of directing a portion of every registration dollar collected to help the less fortunate.  We sincerely appreciate the contributions of all our members, and our host governments this quarter—the City of Holland and the Kent County Road Commission.

 

Looking ahead, our Chapter is co-sponsoring a Government Fraud Seminar with the Lansing Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), hosting a 2012 GAAP Update Webinar, looking at ways to enhance the usefulness of MD&A in governmental financial statements, and tackling our first technology workshop of the year on data mining.  In addition, our early career/student membership event is coming up in February, and March is CGFM month.  It should be an exciting quarter!

 

Thanks to all of you who are involved!  Be sure to invite a friend or colleague to join us!

 

Stephen

September 30, 2011

September 30 marks the close of another great quarter for AGA West Michigan.  In the past three months, we have kicked-off a new program year, launched our new scholarship program, and added Katie Madison as our first student Board member (welcome, Katie!).  Our education programs have covered single audits, internal controls over grant administration, and Michigan’s Economic Vitality Incentive Program.  I’d like to extend a special thanks to our host governments Muskegon County and the City of Grand Haven for graciously sharing their conference facilities with our Chapter.  And we continued our commitment to community service by raising funds for the YWCA.

 

Coming up, we have programs on pension management, audit committees, and debt refundings, as well as our collaborative effort with the GFOA to bring its Annual GAAP Update to West Michigan at a substantially reduced rate.

 

This continues to be an exciting time to be a part of AGA.  Thanks to all of you who are involved, and be sure to tell your friends and colleagues to join us, too!

 

Stephen

June 30, 2011  

As I look back over the 2010-2011 program year for our Chapter, I can’t help but smile... what a great year!  Here are a few brief highlights:

 

·        16 events held in 9 different cities

·        Over 40 hours of CPE offered

·        More than 150 different attendees

·        Over $200 donated to local charities ($1 from every paid registration)

·        New student outreach program

·        CGFM Month proclamations from six local governments

·        Active library for CGFM self-study materials

·        Several members passed sections of the CGFM exam, and one became certified

·        Platinum status recognition by AGA National

 

Not bad for our first full year of operations!  I know I’ve said it before, but let me repeat myself… THANK YOU to all the volunteers, board members, host governments, and Chapter members who have made this possible!

 

Looking ahead to 2011-2012, I’m pleased to announce we have a solid group of board members to continue to lead the charge:

 

·        Stephen W. Blann, CPA, CGFM, President / Education

·        Kristin Saper, CPA, CGFM, President-elect / Communications

·        Will Love, CPA, CGFM, Treasurer / Membership

·        Amy Rottman, CPA, CGFM, Secretary / Student and Early Career

·        Jim Oleson, CPA, Community Service

·        Doug Vredeveld, CPA, CGFM, Accountability

 

In addition, we will be offering an AGA scholarship this fall, and adding a student board member.  Please help us welcome him/her this fall!  There are still openings on the board (several of us are wearing multiple hats), and we are always looking for more volunteers to help direct the Chapter… it’s never too late (or too early) to get involved!

 

Please continue to email your ideas for future topics and events to AGAWestMichigan@gmail.com.  We really do value your feedback! 

   

Very truly yours,

 

Stephen W. Blann, CPA, CGFM

Chapter President

 

March 31, 2011

 

Greetings!

 

First and foremost, let me extend a warm thank you everyone who has helped make AGA West Michigan such a great success!  To our volunteer board members, host governments, and speakers, I am truly grateful.

 

The West Michigan Chapter had another strong quarter in early 2011, starting in January with an excellent webinar lead by Chris Veenstra of Watkins Ross & Co.  The cities of Grand Haven and Wayland then offered their hospitality for our February and March Lunch ‘n Learns on the 2011 GASB Update and the panel discussion on Implementing an Internal Audit Function, respectively.

 

February saw level Two of the Governmental Accounting Training Series (GATS) presented to a strong crowd.  Level Three will be held in April and will complete the series for this year.  February also marked our first ever Early Career event, with a panel of individuals working in various facets of government speaking to a group of students about careers in government.  It was a great session, and saw a strong turnout, as well!

 

Finally, five West Michigan governments joined us in proclaiming March 2011 as CGFM month.  As the Certified Governmental Financial Manager designation continues to grow in recognition, we hope to continue to add to this list:

 

·         Kent County

·         Muskegon County

·         City of East Grand Rapids

·         City of Grand Rapids

·         City of Kentwood

·         City of Wayland

 

Please continue to email your ideas for future topics and events to AGAWestMichigan@gmail.com.  We really value your feedback!  And don’t forget that it’s never too late (or too early) to get involved.

   

Very truly yours,

 

Stephen W. Blann, CPA, CGFM

Chapter President

 December 31, 2010
 

Greetings!

As we wrap up the second quarter of our 2010-2011 program year, I continue to be struck by how far our fledgling chapter has come in so short a time!  While we still have a long way to go, our membership has grown by almost 50% since our inception in December 2009, and we have successfully completed ten training events that reached out to nearly 100 different attendees.  I’d like to extend a special thanks to those of you who have attended events out of your immediate geographic area.  Our plan is to continue to rotate the location of our monthly Lunch ‘n Learns to make these events accessible to members throughout our multi-county service area.  I’d also like to thank the many volunteers who have helped to make these events a success.  As our program year progresses, please continue to email your ideas for future topics and events to AGAWestMichigan@gmail.com.  We really value your feedback!
 
In the third quarter of our operating year, we have several exciting events planned, including Level Two of the AGA’s own Governmental Accounting Training Series (GATS).  The GATS is a great program for anyone looking to add to their understanding of governmental accounting and auditing, internal controls, federal cost principles, and similar topics.  Level Three will follow in the fourth quarter.  Stay tuned for more information.  This quarter, we will also be offering convenient training on understanding actuarial reports, implementing an internal audit function, and a general GAAP update.  I hope to see you at one or more of these events.
 
Finally, if you would like to help guide the Chapter further, we still have openings on the board.  I am very grateful to our existing board members for their leadership and contributions.  We would be pleased to welcome a few more individuals dedicated to Advancing Government Accountability throughout West Michigan.  If you are interested, please drop me a line!
 
Very truly yours,
 
Stephen W. Blann, CPA, CGFM
Chapter President
 
September 30, 2010

 

Greetings!

 

As we wrap up the first quarter of our 2010-2011 program year, I am struck by how far our fledgling chapter has come in so short a time!  While we still have a long way to go, our membership has grown by almost 50% since our inception in December 2009, and we have successfully completed six training events that reached out to over 50 different attendees.  I’d like to extend a special thanks to those of you who have attended events out of your immediate geographic area.  Our plan is to continue to rotate the location of our monthly Lunch ‘n Learns to make these events accessible to members throughout our multi-county service area.  I’d also like to thank the many volunteers who have helped to make these events a success.  As our program year progresses, please continue to email your ideas for future topics and events to AGAWestMichigan@gmail.com.  We really value your feedback!

 

In the second quarter of our operating year, we have several exciting events planned, including Level One of the AGA’s own Governmental Accounting Training Series (GATS).  The GATS is a great program for anyone looking to add to their understanding of governmental accounting and auditing, internal controls, federal cost principles, and similar topics.  Levels Two and Three will follow in the third and fourth quarters.  Stay tuned for more information.  This quarter, we will also be offering convenient training on custodial credit risk for governmental deposits and investments, ethics, and citizen centric reporting.  I hope to see you at one or more of these events.

 

Finally, if you would like to help guide the Chapter further, we still have openings on the board.  I am very grateful to our existing board members for their leadership and contributions.  We would be pleased to welcome a few more individuals dedicated to Advancing Government Accountability throughout West Michigan.  If you are interested, please drop me a line!

 

Very truly yours,

 

Stephen W. Blann, CPA, CGFM

Chapter President